The Bridge Kingdom & The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen.

by - January 20, 2021


The Bridge Kingdom

Wow. This surprise read turned out to be an absolute gem that unexpectedly won over my heart the first day of 2021. I devoured every page with great awe as our heroine (anti-hero?) fights through snake infested jungles and her feelings for a charismatic king. If you read the synopsis of this book, it's glaringly obvious that this story is not unique. However, this doesn't mean The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen is not worth your time. In fact, I'm going to need everyone to stop what they're doing and read this book.

Danielle spared no punches with this first book. She threw some heavy blows in the first chapter and everything that's pure and good snowballed from there, giving the reader absolutely no time to catch up. It's fast-paced, lush, romantic, and rather heartwarming when you consider the sheer passion of the Ithicanian people. In almost every chapter this beloved country was relentlessly attacked by a vicious enemy who only wanted one thing - the bridge.

Despite being a small book, Danielle was able to introduce a bunch of characters who I instantly connected with. They all felt natural and like family, making Lara's job even harder. Lara is an extremely calculated character that knows how to take care of herself and I appreciate that in a female protagonist. She's quick to see where she fails and doesn't dwell on her feelings for Aren too long, opting to rather stay on task and see her mission through for her own people.

The love story in this had a few complaints by other reviewers but I loved it. It wasn't in your face or overwhelming. At the end of the day, these are two characters who are forced to spend the rest of their lives together. This does not mean they need to fall in love through romantic strolls or dinner. Instead, Aren and Lara's love story is perfectly intertwined with a war. This means that we often found our beloved husband and wife pairing falling in love on the battlefield.

My only selfish complaint would be for this book to be a 100 pages longer. The dual perspectives were super short, making the reading experience pass by in a blur. I would have loved to hear more about the history of Ithicana and read more interactions between Aren and Lara. While I love that their story is birthed during a war, I did want some quiet moments where the two of them could relax.

The ending was absolutely spectacular and heartbreaking. I could not imagine what readers went through when they had to wait for the second installment. Luckily, I had The Traitor Queen ready once I finished.

Rating: 5 stars

The Traitor Queen

Following the events of the first book, The Traitor Queen immediately takes off and we're once again thrusts into the beautiful world of Aren and Lara. Our two protagonists are hurting, deeply. I knew going into this that their stories would never be the same after The Bridge Kingdom's ending but I was intrigued by Danielle's direction.

The pacing slowed down in the second installment but not by much. We're still holding our breath through every chapter. The stakes are high, especially for those who want to save the country of Ithicana. This desperation leads Lara to find her sisters, something I was very happy about. However, I was disappointed at just how little we got from that storyline. I once again wished that Danielle would add another 100 or so pages, only to flesh out relationships and histories more.

This does not take anything away from The Traitor Queen though. This book was just as beautiful as the first book and we're finally give more time with just Aren and Lara, despite where their relationship stood. As Lara broke her back time and time again, I couldn't help but feel like it was not enough and this was something our character went through internally as well. Lara fucked up big time and I just knew that she'd have to go to the brink of death to win over our beloved Aren again.

Rating: 4 stars.

Final Thoughts

I am so grateful I picked this series up. I'm officially a Danielle L. Jensen fan and I can't wait to see what she has in store for this world and characters. If you're a fan of political intrigue, action, and a dash of romance, this is the perfect story. The Bridge Kingdom solidified its place as my favourite book of 2021 so I'm challenging authors to top that. 

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